When twins Ryan and Michael D’Introno entered kindergarten two years ago, they often came home from school singing songs in Spanish, part of a language immersion program their school in Bedford Hills, N.Y., decided to try. All students, many of whom were native Spanish speakers, received instruction in both English and Spanish a few days a week.
The boys’ mother, Gina D’Introno, says her sons “were excited to learn Spanish.”
D’Introno also believes the Spanish-speaking students were pleased to see their classmates learning their language.
Similar immersion programs focusing on Spanish and other languages such as French, German and Chinese are increasing in the United States, as are more traditional programs in second-language learning in elementary schools. In fact, 25 percent of all U.S. public and private elementary schools offered foreign language instruction in 2010, according to the Center for Applied Linguistics. The Washington, D.C.-based organization tracks language study in the U.S. Many of the programs are immersion programs where children are taught in English for part of the day, and in another language at other times. French immersion programs have been popular in Canadian schools for many years, and in the U.S., many school districts offer them to encourage language learning.